Last night the troupe (as Moxie likes to say) entered into the fort proper from the shocker lizard cave, right into Lacretia. Being a smart lady, I took the liberty of saying that she found ample supplies of Biiterbark within the keep, and also discovered the secret door in her room. I had it set that as the small, trace amounts of smoke would sneak into her room from the caves, overshadowing the incense she uses, she became aware of someone within the caves since the ogres are to stupid to try the tactic. With her secret door on a crack she waited until she heard the sounds of the party moving down the hall, where she prepped herself and awaited their entrance.
As it turns out, we had 5 players start the evening with the knowledge that 2 more players would arrive at any time. So I planned on her being at maximum health as the only "boost" for the encounter. This took her to roughly 200+ HPs. I then followed with a description of her, with her daggers out but crossed in front of her in a casual pose, and the initial parlay where she proclaimed she wondered how long it would be before they arrived. At how impressed she was at their ingenuity and that Mokmurian would be glad to meet them. She then asked if they were interested in picking the "winning-side?" To which Lynne replied, "No." A simple shrug of her shoulders, "too bad." /Initiative
Turns out she is a pretty damn mean lamia matriarch, and I would say a much bigger threat than her sister was to the party. It also helped that the dice were on fire at the beginning of the night as the daggers were 'crit'-ing everyone. When it was all said and done they took her to roughly 30 health before she Dimension Doored herself to B29 to inform Jaagrath of the 'interlopers.' At this point he took her under advisement and moved everyone in the upper floors into B30. So we had Lucrecia, Jaagrath, Dorella, "Hookmaw" and two ogres in there. Tight fit. They then waited to see if the ogres inside would take care of the problem, and if not, take care of it én mass when they arrived upstairs.
I kept the size of the structure as is, instead of doubling it since there were so few players and I didn't want to shift the scale mid night when the rest of the players arrived. Turns out, ogres and full parties fill up a map pretty damn fast. The group then spent their time moving upwards into the fort checking all the rooms. Turns out the "artist" in B23 and the "poet" in B18 got some big guffaws from the group and several shakes of the head with shudders at the description of the former cleric of Fort Rannick.
I will also admit that I was fairly impressed with the group speed, we managed to do 90% of the fort in one night, which is fairly impressive for us, but then again the last fight caused us to run about an hour and a half over our normal time. But it was a big fight and they were having fun.
The last fight went well for me and I was afraid of causing a TPK. I do not pull punches as a GM, its a general rule. I do not fudge dice, either I crush you or I fail spectacularly, sometimes I do both at the same time. I did change tactics for this fight though. Because they were all in one spot and difficult to get at, I did not give them max hps, they didn't need it. In the first couple of rounds, Hookmaw attacked the cleric (only target he could see) and left the cleric with 5 wounds, and the fighter was on the ground laughing from Hideous Laughter (the loss of 4 Wisdom from fighing Lucrecia earlier not helping his already poor Will save). Jaagrath raged, got mad that he couldn't get to anyone and started breaking through the north wall of the room. In two swings he did 60 damage to the wall, leaving only 30 health before there was a new 10' wide door for the ogres to use. Instead I had Lucrecia Dimension Door with Jaagrath into B29 and suddenly the group was in a tight spot. Jaagrath laid into the half-orc and I took him to "one more hit and he gets to start his third character in RotRL." A lucky Slumber Hex from annie got through and subsequently then killed from a coup-dé-grace.
The only punch I "pseudo-pulled" was not outright going after the laughing fighter since he was in base with Hookmaw. Instead he laughed along side and only attacked normally, no power attacking. I did damage but not a stupid amount that I could have. Xandu having Shield Other up on himself helped the hit point damage but he was in the back furiously healing himself trying to keep alive from the initial assault and the carry over damage from Shield Other. A final Confusion (need to learn to read all my spells, since the first two she cast were only "single target" and not AoE) had three members of the group either attacking themselves or others. This ended up having either Moxie or Simon dropping Annie to -2 and dying before the spell wore off and they potioned her back up. The rest had used Xandu's Dimension Door to return to her room thinking she was there which she wasn't.
Lucrecia ended up using a few heals on herself before they arrived and I set her at 50 Health but at 20, she Dimension Doored again to flee. She fought well, but the myriad of Mirror Images and the fact she must have been tired (aka. my dice and her multiple attacks went south) led to her leaving the fight.
Next week we will pick up in the aftermath as they decide on what to do with the multitude of ogres still in the courtyard after having suffered the assault of about 50 Shocker Lizards.
Action report, draft, Simon Roque reporting.
1) Thief, Witch and Paladin all succumbed to smoke in the lower tunnels. Entered keep through secret door, into Lamia Matriarch’s personal chamber. That entity tried to recruit us, and when we did not accept the fight was on. Had she used more deadly weapons than daggers, I fear the result would have been less favorable to me; but after a short fight she retreated through magical means.
2) Search of the keep turned up isolated pockets of ogres engaged in various acts of destruction. Nine ogres (three armored) dispatched without incident. More ogres in the courtyard hunting shocker lizards await us in the future. Thief and Witch rejoined group, Paladin still indisposed.
3) Top level of keep held two more ogres, an ogre-mage, an armored ogre, and their berserker leader as well as the Lamia Matriarch. All killed except Lamia, which once again escaped via magic. Fourteen ogres killed so far, it is no wonder that the Black Arrows were unable to hold against them. Minor wounds sustained by most party members; enemy magic made this encounter a near-run thing.
Conclusions: Commendation is in order for the Witch, who turned the tide against the berserker. Even when I was incapacitated and the situation looked bleak, no one deserted their comrades. In the future, we must give some thought to eliminating enemy spell-casters early in the conflict, and some method of preventing these annoying magical escape hatches.
Well, that's what I get for sleepwalking through the caves. We walked right in to Lucrecia's (the lamia we actually wanted to find) room. Well, she asked us a couple questions, like if we'd join her side. We declined and it was on. Unfortunately, she went and dimension doored out before we could finish her. That spell is beginning to piss me off. I need to figure out how to counterspell it.
We went exploring the inside of the fort and began running into ogres. One by one, they weren't so bad. Then we found a bunch of them...and the lamia. They're some hard hitters, and damnit if some of them can't cast also.
I was involved in the fight with the lamia and apparently daddy ogre at first. I hit the daddy with a shocking grasp and that seemed to finish him off. Then I tried for the lamia. That damn snake traded some shots then dimension doored again. I've got to learn to counterspell it quick. Making me angry.
So I went and joined the fun with the rest of the ogres. Exciting and fearsome fight. Simon was laughing hysterically on the floor. Zandu was mostly doing healing. Friedrich was blind again. As a group, we managed to finish them off. We've still got the ones outside and the lamia to deal with. Time to shorten the snake by a head. I want to rest and drink and well, maybe worship again. I deserve it.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
[coughing, wandering almost blind through the caves filled with aptly named "bitter bark" smoke]
Gahh, this infernal smoke has burned my eyes and taken my breath for far too long. It seemed to be a good idea to light a fire in the caves to drive out the lizards, but now I'm not so sure.
As the smoke thickened, I followed Simon and the others down one of the twisting corridors of the caves behind the fort. Well, at least I thought I was following them! It seems I took a wrong turn and headed back into the caves instead of arriving at the hidden door as planned.
The smoke actually worsened until I could barely see more than a few feet in front of me, even with the ioun stone supplying its magical light. I stumbled along for a few minutes, calling out to the group, and doubling back on my route several times until I was hopelessly disoriented.
Finally, I realized that I wasn't making any progress, and was likely getting myself good and lost in the caves. At that point, I sat down on the floor, wrapping a cloak around my face to keep out some of the bitter smoke, and waited a while for it to clear enough that I could find my bearings.
After what seemed to be far too much time, the smoke lightened enough that I could finally see again. I searched briefly for a landmark I recognized, and then found the right tunnel leading to the hidden door. I readied my gear, and then grabbed a hold on the door and forced it open.
Now, to see what has happened to my friends during the time I was lost and suffering from the smoke in the caves.
After action report, 12 Neth, Simon Roque reporting.
1) After the fight, the company regrouped on the main floor of the citadel, and made a plan to draw the ogres in the courtyard into the entry hall to be destroyed. Plan accomplished without incident.
2) Remaining Black Arrows reported in; they had encountered the Lamia, once again disguised, and one of them had volunteered to accompany her to Turtleback Ferry. Unable to pursue due to weather, darkness and fatigue, we camped the remainder of the night. We spent the next day making minor repairs and disposing of the bodies in the keep. Determined that we should return to Turtleback Ferry in an attempt to apprehend the Lamia and send a report back to Magnimar, leaving the Black Arrows to hold the fort until relieved.
3) Discovered the body of the Black Arrow accompanying the Lamia a short distance down the trail, buried him. No trace of the Lamia. Reported to village headman at Turtleback Ferry, drafted letter to Lord Governor of Magnimar which Friederick volunteered to hand carry. We will miss his discipline and ability to deal damage. No sign that the Lamia had returned to town.
4) We must now decide whether to try to track down the elusive Lamia Lucrezia, or to try and locate the missing Captain of the Fort Rannick garrison. We have nearly enough personnel to do both, but I dislike dividing forces in the face of a dangerous and resourceful enemy.
We decided to empty out the grounds by drawing them to us so they couldn’t attack us en masse. Worked pretty well, all things considered. Getting hit by one of them isn’t good for my health. I didn’t help much, but after I got some much needed healing by Zandu, I tried to get back into the fight and helped where I could. We go as many as we could to come to us and then went out to get the rest.
At about the same time, the remaining rangers and Shelelu came bursting back into the fort, only to find more than they thought. We finished them off.
After a quick meeting, we decided to hole up in the fort, help put what we could back together, before going back to Turtleback Ferry. We figured that Lucretia was headed there, but we found some information about the commander of the fort and a probable relationship with a nymph.
We did what we could at the fort, and took off the next morning. It’s still raining, miserable weather. We made it back to town, no sign of Lucretia. I told the priest, he seems to be in charge of the town or at least some sort of leader, what had happened at Fort Rannick, no boats or visitors had been reported, she’ll probably have to use some sort of disguise.
My bluntness seems to be taken as rudeness by these people. As short as their life is, and as brash as they seem to be, when someone is short with them they are almost offended. Honestly, I’m beginning to feel used by all these people. I’d think if one of our party comes back to report what’s happening or happened, they’d make it a priority to listen. Oh, well, I’m not used to them yet, I’ve got time, I wonder how many generations of them it will take.
Woefully behind in updating my end of the campaign, my apologies.
The next gathering was dealing with the remaining ogres in the courtyard. This proved to be rather easy as I could not make any Perception rolls higher than a 10 (modified) by any of the groups of remaining ogres. So they were brought piece meal into kill zones and readily dispatched by the group.
The interesting part was with the return of Shalelu, Vale and Jakardros. When Lucretia did her Dimension Door to escape the fight with the party she appeared outside the keep and then then started moving down the road. I had her in her human disguise when she encountered the remaining Black Arrows and Shalelu. Under the guise of a merchants wife that had been captured by the ogres while traveling she convinced the group that a bunch of adventurers had freed her and told her to wait outside the keep. She became to frightened to remain and decided to run for Turtleback Ferry. At this point, Kaven jumps at the chance to escort her to Turtleback Ferry and Jakardros agrees.
At this point the fort is now cleared but empty. So the group immediately begins their debate as to what to do. Stay and help the remaining Black Arrows take care of the fort, or pursue Lucretia. They opt to finish looting the fort as a whole, to which they do and discover the commanders stash of sonnets. After visiting with Jakardros they now have another avenue of pursuit. They decided to spend the night, rest and work on clearing the fort of the bodies, as well as the waterfall. Failing guidance from Desna (rolled a 90 something) they decide to head to Turtleback Ferry to try and find Lucretia the following day. Along the way they discover the body of Kaven, whom I decided to kill off rather than leave alive. Mostly because I would imagine that Lucretia is a wee bit upset with him for not having slowed them down much. Loose ends and all.
They arrive in Turtleback Ferry learning that no woman had arrived, especially the red haired woman that was supposed to be dead. The rain at this point has made the group decide to stay in town for as long as possible before they decide their next action. The player of the alchemist wished to bring in a druid and retire the alchemist so the group decided to send a letter to Magnimar in his hands on the next traders ship that arrives in port.
Fourteenth day of the Month Neth
Recuperation – Planning – Parting
This will likely be my final entry for some time as I shall be departing from my comrades in hopes to find a means of countering this ancient magic that has been plaguing the world of late. After the many hardships of the past few days I am loathe to write what transpired. My mind and body have been tested and, though I remain mostly unscathed physically, are in need of relief.
We found fort Rannick taken by ogres as the rangers informed. A quick plan was scripted to use the hidden tunnels that enter the rear of the fort in several places; two entrances into the courtyard and one that lead into the basement of the fort itself. By burning bitter-bark back in the caves we were able to force the shocker lizard denizens out into the courtyard to act as a potent distraction, we entered the fort directly.
We were not expecting to run directly into the lair of the serpent, however, this is what transpired. Given no time to properly prepare for the encounter I fear I was not providing as much support fire as possible. Also we seemed to have lost a few of our party to the smoke. The lamia proved to be very capable with a pair of knives she used to flay those that got close enough to her. Simon, Lynn, and the half ork took many grave wounds from her, but, returned the favor. I did what I could with artillery but before we could finish her off she cast a quick dimension door spell and vanished leaving us bedraggled and well, rather upset.
Most the rest of the keep held rooms with just a few ogres that were dispatched with little difficulty. That is till we headed for the top floor. The first few rooms, though gruesome and tattered, were unoccupied. One on the other hand, made for perhaps the most vexing engagement we had yet undertaken. Five ogres and the lamia were waiting in one room, preparing for our arrival. The door kept them from swarming us at first but that changed when the lamia moved some to flank, as well as a new opening was being made in the stone before me from repeated blows. The thick rock wall gave me a few seconds to ready myself for combat, but not as much time as I had hoped. Within the first few seconds Simon was struck with a hideous laughter spell and I was once more struck blind. That’s twice in two days. I was ready this time and was able to cure it shortly after. It took some time but we finally relieved the ogres of their existence, however, the lamia once more made her escape. We have yet to find her since. After clearing the keep we made short work of the rest of the ogres in the courtyard that remained.
The next day we assisted the remaining rangers in cleaning up the place and figuring out what our course of action should be. The rangers need reinforcement as well as their commander recovered as he has gone missing, as well we wanted to find and end the lamia. It was decided that we would head back to Turttleback Ferry and send for reinforcements from Magnimar, as well as try to find were the lamia went. If that search proved fruitless we would go after the commander.
Indeed, the lamia was not to be found; wherever she fled to she will be better prepared for us. Upon reaching the Ferry I offered to bring our report to the Lord Mayer and then stay in Magnimar and attempt to find more information on this ancient Thassilonian magic. If I am hasty enough I may be able to decipher a way to counter this foul, sin-fed power that has so suddenly erupted into our reality before any more of my friends’ lives are extinguished.
Last night the group recapped the ending of the previous week and introduced our newest character. Player retired his alchemist to play a druid.
From there we completed Part 4. The Haunted Heart.
For this part I played up the town of Bitter Hollow and ended up trying to give the town a southern/pikey (think Brad Pitt from Snatch, but with a southern drawl added in) feel to it. They entered into the towns only store, Gators Nest, and I described (on the fly) a gnomish collection of pipes that you could smoke in the rain. Figuring that the town would have an ample supply of tobacco in its myriad of forms. This seemed to go over well with the players as 2 min. into it, they were all trying to imitate the accent. Bunch of grown men looking like dorks really, but still funny.
From there they head out on the Wicker Walk before they realized they had no idea where Whitewillow was located. So Xandu and Simon went back to town to find out. In the meantime the rest of the group who were waiting on the Wicker Walk met up with Yap. I read his opening monolog in a fast, high pitched voice that peaked and fell as the emotion of his plea was read. Frankly that one hurt, but it got the point across. Considering that one of the players cannot handle that type of attitude, he was ready to kill Yap after 15 minutes of game time passed while they waited for Xandu and Simon to return.
Once the group was together I had them move out into the Shimmerglens where they encountered 4 trolls with max health. I had 5 players for this part and to be honest, the trolls never had a chance. It was more of an exercise to make the players realize that they only had a few supplies to burn the trolls with.
From there I ran the encounters listed in the chapter in the order of:
1. Whispers of Regret, with only 3 players investigating the body (by which I now had 6 players as Annie had arrived).
2. Dead Pool, of which only Xandu came close to but made the Will save so nothing was seen or Wis damaged.
3. Mysterious Derelict which the group completely avoided. I included a Knowledge Nature roll DC20 to include information that a normal Perception check wouldn't catch. Those that made it noticed that where ever the ship was touching a tree, fresh bark had fallen either onto the ship or into the pools of water that dot the area of the swamp. This told the players that the ship arrived, listed a little in the mire and when it struck a tree a little bark fell off. Still though the group ignored it deciding to investigate the boat on the return trip.
4. Ghostly Revels at this the group did not freak out and try and attack the ghosts/shades/wisps nor did they try and run. Need to work on my description skills. But only Annie failed the Will save for minor damage.
I skipped Apparitions of Death mostly because I used the description given here as the general overall description of the swamp but without the Will save. Another error on my part, but not a big deal. I did have everyone in the group make a general Fortitude save DC12 or become fatigued. Walking through a swamp all day would get extremely tiring. Xandu was the only player exempt from the roll as he had "taken and kept" the Boots of the Mire. Which in itself is odd considering what they were used for. Why did Lamatar not have them on when he left to go see Myriana? Continuity error there on Paizo's part.
When they got to the clearing I gave a general map drawing of the tree line with a 15' buffer zone where past that you would not be able to see the clearing through the trees. About 60'+ out from the edge of the clearing I drew a small pond, roughly 80' round. The group, sans Simon because he would not enter, moved into the clearing and spread out. Once they were within 10-15' of the pond, Myriana rose from the waters with her shrieking howl. Every player present failed the Fortitude save versus her Blinding Beauty aura.
She yelled and cursed her dialog at the players and let her statement hang before Xandu said that they were there to help. Simple role-play and a bargain was struck that they would look for Lamatars body and bring it back to the clearing. During this exchange, the one player who approaches every slight/diss/or challenge with "I kill them" barked a rude statement at Myriana who then turned and used her Stunning Glance on him in return. He failed the save and then it was robble, robble, robble for the remainder of the night. Even Simon was pissed as he openly threatened to tear Yaps wings off if he saw him again. Diplomacy is rather strong with this group.
Eventually they made their way back to Simon and finding a dry hillock to camp on for the night and took care of their Blindness. Using a druid spell for a shelter when the first person stepped from the "structure" to post their watch they discovered 3 bags of Pixie Dust. I had offered 1 bag per person from Yap as payment for helping Myriana. Half now/half later kind of thing.
The group followed their path back to the Wicker Walk discovering along the way that the ship was no longer there. When they arrived back in Bitter Hollow I had one of the townsfolk from Turtleback Ferry there with horses where he pleaded for their help in assisting the town because of the now flooding waters. Next week they begin saving Turtleback Ferry.
After Action Report, 14 Neth, Simon Roque reporting.
1) Evening of 12 Neth spent deciding on a course of action (locate missing commander Lamatar of the Black Arrows by checking the nearby swamp for his nymph girlfriend) and relaxation, followed by a warm dry bed. Another druid has shown up; at least this one is human. Remains to be seen if he is as useless and stuffy as the last one.
2) Set out across the Skull river for Bitter Hollow. Rain has decreased to an annoying drizzle. The new druid (Hatham) has a bird the size of a small house with him. Natives of Bitter Hollow know of the commander, but claim not to have seen him recently, and warned of “bad things” in the swamp.
3) Met up with a pixie named Yap, who desperately wants to lead us to his “sick Master,” assuming that we are friends of “the human lover.” It is the best lead we have, but I’m wary; pixies have a bit of a reputation for causing mischief, though this one seems earnest enough (perhaps on the verge of panic). He led us directly into the swamp claiming the destination is “not far” and that the path was dry. Last part was a definite exaggeration.
4) Accosted by four trolls, seemingly looking for Yap. Destroyed them with only very minor injuries. Once again Annie proved her worth by providing a source of fire to burn the carcasses. Must amend my equipment to cover this eventuality in the future; mere flint and steel are inadequate to this task. The druid changed shape into a huge wolf, and he and his giant bird tag teamed one of the trolls. I’m starting to like this guy.
5) After passing other signs and apparitions, and slogging all day through this accursed bog, we came to a clearing that Yap said was the destination, yet refused to enter. I thought it prudent that someone should wait outside, but in support range; that someone turned out to be me. When the group entered the clearing, an apparition of a dead nymph appeared and charged the group with finding her lover, who had been taken by ogres to their lair “high on the hook mountain.” From the agitation of my comrades it was clear that something was very wrong; the Fey had struck them all blind. I was able to direct them back to me, and we found a relatively dry place to camp until Xandu could pray the blindness away. The druid cast some sort of spell which turned the small dryish hummock I had found into a very comfortable campsite with good water.
6) After slogging our way back out of the swamp we returned to Bitter Hollow to find a messenger from Turtleback Ferry; the town was flooding and they needed our help to evacuate. No rest for the weary…
Haytham’s Journal: Entry 1
The fly into Turttleback Ferry proved to be a startling one. The excessive rains were raising the water in the lake to a dangerous level that may damage the natural damn, I didn’t get a closer look to see any strain, nor could I do anything about it at the time. As well in the lake I spotted a massive water serpent, like what you hear about in myths. I hope I don’t have to encounter him, at least not while he’s hungry.
Not two seconds after reverting to my human self outside the town a little ways was I approached by a man claiming to be the chief or mayor or whatever name these people use to call their leader. Indeed he seems brave enough, walking right up to a complete stranger and twelve foot tall Rok. He was a geanerous man offering for me to stay at the “church?” if I could not afford the inn. He then looked at and politely mentioned that the invite would only apply to me. I let him know that I was grateful but it would be unnecessary. We’ve only done this a couple of times but I signaled Vethrfolnir to come closer, than gave him a quick sign he “should” remember and cast a spell turning him into a small stone figurine. I just hope tomorrow when I wake him up he’s not as upset as last time. Not something I enjoy doing but it can be useful when dealing with people. He pointed me towards a group of adventurers that had just come back from Fort Rannick, specifically an elf in the group named Lynn.
I was a little disheartened at hearing I was to converse with an elf, they usually prefer a more eloquent exchange than I am used to and they can be offended fairly easily. Entering the tavern I found a chaotic mix of music, dancing, and one particular booming voice coming from a man who was the musculature of a full grown gorilla, complexion was fairly close too. I found Lynn at the bar and was happily perplexed to find him as blunt a character as I. They had come from a city named Magnimar on order to find out what was happening at Rannick and were now in pursuit of the lead ranger who is missing. He had no idea about the odd weather or where is stemmed from, however, he mentioned the ranger was visiting a nymph and I got the feeling I ought to check it out. He agreed to let me come along mentioning they had left the last druid from the group at Rannick.
Lynn gave quick introductions of his companions. Simon the man-ape gone wrong thing, was an ex-guard (imagine that) from Magnimar. Darok, a ranger who just recently joined to help out with the Rannick situation. Rikert, a holy warrior of some god or another, I am not versed in most of the deities these people worship. Zandu, a wandering cleric of Desna (caught the name that time), Varisian by the look of him. Anne, a Tian (first I’ve seen) sneak-about, the fox curled up in her lap has a devious intelligence in its eyes that suggest it more arcane than animal. Moxie, a gnome, also a sneak-about and also something of a tease as Simon kept making lewd suggestions, especially after he informed me multiple times of the lack of a whore-house in town. Then Lynn mentioned he was something of a spell-sword.
I opted to sleep outside and built a simple shelter to keep the rain and cold out. The next morning I met the group on the north side of town and we took a ferry across the river to begin our trek to Whitewillow. We hit a small hamlet occupied by a handful of simple folk as-live-off-the-land types and got a brief idea of our surroundings. We were about a quarter mile outside of town when we discovered we had no idea how precisely to reach Whitewillow, so Zandu and Simon went back to town for directions. While they were gone we were approached by a pixie claiming that his mistress was ill and that we were to help. He was quite the excitable creature and his shrill voice was rather vexing, however it is not his fault it is difficult to change one’s nature, and I’m surprised he mustered the courage to talk to a group of well armed adventurers.
Fallowing the pixie proved tiring to some of the group, they did not have the patience required to handle skittish individuals. I agree the constant chatter and disappearing at any odd noise made the trip much longer than it needed to be, however, based on the drab conditions of the swamp and forest, as well as the near complete lack of fauna, I empathize with his uneasiness. Our travel was not without interruption, firstly there was the matter of four trolls. I had never had to deal with them before and learned during the fight that one must finish them off with fire. Unfortunately I had not prepared any fire spells and had little else to make an inferno. So Vethrfolnir and I tagged one while the Stormgaurd quickly felled the other three. We were able to make them unconscious and drag them into a pile to burn. Then we had an encounter with a ghostly band of satyrs and other fey creatures dancing to mute music, passing through physical objects and heading towards the group. They all looked dead; deformed, bruised or cut in some manner. As they passed through us, quite literally, I felt a wash of cold and despair that lasted only so long as I was in contact with one, Anne did not fare so well as she looked rather drained.
Then there’s the matter of a ship that appeared from somewhere, we opted to let it be as no threat was detected from it. When we finally made the clearing that Yap(pixie) had lead us to, I was dismayed. The whole area felt dead in a way I have never, and hope never again, to feel. It was as if the trees, the grass, the water, even the earth itself were dead. Nothing stirred or rustled, there was wind though it had no effect, not even a ripple in the pond. All but Simon went into the clearing, and it was a good thing he opted to watch our backs. When we neared the pool a specter of the nymph rose howling from the still waters. I was struck blind but not before I was able to view the sad condition her form was in. Battered and torn I can only imagine what fowl things the ogres did to this innocent spirit of life. In her anguish she blamed us for failing her lover, for failing to hold Rannick and for other such atrocities. We spoke our piece saying we were here to help and so forth; her voice calmed some and commanded us to bring back some piece of her lover so both could rest. Rather unbecoming of a woodland spirit, but hey, I think I’d be a little pissed in that situation too.
Nothing was to be done for our blindness for the time being. Zandu cured two of us and said he’d have to wait till midnight to get the rest of us. I turned into a bat so at least I could navigate a bit on my own. We spent the night in the swamp and headed back to town in the morn. Of course nothing’s easy, for as we neared the town we got word that it’s flooding and they need our help to evacuate people. I figure the natural damn has given away to an extent, just hope that giant serpent isn't too curious about his new turf, or hungry for that matter.
Well the group apparently decided to leave the next morning to go to the swamp. That evening after I spoke with the town leader, I had some wine and relaxed. I’m not looking forward to spending more time in the swamp and rain. Maybe I should join Friedrich in going back to Magnamar. Oh well, I’ve got a couple days before the ship leaves. Meanwhile, a human came in and introduced himself, apparently the town leader sent him to find me. He was a druid and was looking into the unnatural rain here. I gave him a short version of what we’d been doing and where we were going the next day. He asked if he could join us and although a drunk and boisterous Simon didn’t help at all, the druid decided to join us.
Bright and early mid-morning, the group got going, across the ferry into the swamp. We came across a little town called Bitter Hollow. There was a small general store there, run by a swamp person. The only comment I can make is interesting. He told us about a pathway into the swamp. He’d seen the commander come through a few times but hadn’t seen him lately.
While we were on the wooden walkway, a pixie came begging for help. We were pretty sure he was leading us to the nymph. Off the walkway and into the swamp we went. After traveling for quite a while, we fought some trolls. We beat them down and set them on fire. The pixie lead us deeper into the swamp and finally to a clearing. Five of us walked into the clearing, the nymph appeared and we were blinded. Great. Have I ever mentioned how much I like nature? Anyway, despite my anger, she asked for help. She wanted the body of her lover, the commander. She was convinced that he’s dead and at the ogre ridden Hook Mountain.
Zandu healed my blindness and we found a small hill to rest on. The druid created a shelter for the evening. At some time, the Pixie left us 3 bags of Pixie dust. Part of our deal with him to help was the pixie dust. He still owes us 3 if we finish the job.
We headed back to town the next day after Zandu healed the rest of the blindness. When we got back to Bitter Hollow a man was waiting with horses to get us. Apparently there is a dam north of town and the water had risen over the dam and was flooding Turtleback Ferry. They wanted our help.
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As we trekked through the dark tunnels I stopped to ensure those trailing behind would not be lost to the haze and smoke that hung in the air for in order to gain advantage we would need to douse our lights. I called for Annie and Rikert both responded but Rikert seemed further behind than Annie. I whispered back that we were getting ready to make our entry and to look for lights or the sound of combat and walk to it! Annie answered with sarcasm, and Rikert was heard to cough so assumed this to be his affirmation and I proceeded towards the doorway. Upon making the door I found the sign of a recent combat to include a sizable pool of what I assumed was a troupe-mates blood! Worried, I scampered through the scene of recent combat to provide any assistance I could afford, leaving Annie and Rikert to find their way to the doorway.
I found the troupe in the hallway near the entrance intact. With the immediate area cleared of the enemy I scouted the entrance. It seemed as though the Shocker Lizards were still providing entertainment for the ogres outside which allowed the troupe to discreetly make passage unnoticed. The first door we came to on the right was checked for tricks and locks and none were present so I left it to those who open doors. Melee ensued with what was to be my first experience with a full sized proper ogre…impressively HUGE EGADS!! I was encouraged to scout ahead as the number of ogres was manageable by the troupes stalwart combat specialists. I rounded the corner and no further threats were encountered in this area of the keep. We back tracked through the entrance unnoticed a second time and found the rest of the ground floor a true wreck but devoid of unsavory inhabitants.
The second floor surely showed promise of more intense hand to hand combat and glory for our troupe and after breaching the stairways peak we checked a room which appeared to be a horridly defaced chapel, I will not describe it, leave it to say the current inhabitants are masters of desecration! The next rooms doors were checked and found to be unsecured and devoid of danger. At which I moved to the end of the hall and found…no egress! I felt it to be an unsafe location and quickly moved back to the top of the stairs as combat ensued at the new doorways. Thunderous roars and hard heavy thrusts were from orge hooks clipped numerous troupe mates from the doorways. Then loud noises shook the hall as if someone beat at the walls to get at the troupe. I will say now this shook my resolve to remain in combat but I lingered just at the top of the stairs with the grievously wounded Xandu. Then remarkably Brisket fell to the floor in a fit of uncontrolled laughter at which I was not amused. I feared most earnestly for his well-being!
Suddenly and in a fashion most rude and pernicious the largest and most frightening visage materialized in the entrance to the chapel and began to rail upon Duh’rock. I was quite astonished at the mass of the beast but shocked to action as I was locked in a fright and entirely offended to the point disgust and rage. With my percussion wand and throwing axe at the ready I took aim and blasted the hulking beast at close range with a hit that would have forced a grunt or involuntary reaction from a normal foe…not a peep or flinch was to be seen. As Lynn and Duh’rock worked on it magic seemed to fill the air and could have caught them in a crossfire of the most heinous effect but our adversaries kept their wizardry close and personal. SHELYN BE PRAISED!!! I reloaded and loosed a second volley around the corner and that one stung! There was a flinch and that was as much as I cared to be noticed. I would say it was the most desparate of moments we as a troupe have ever been accustomed. All were engaged and all focused to the task. Lynn advanced into the chapel after Duh’rock felled the raging horror. Then it was suddenly a fight to save Brisket as he lay exposed to assault in the doorway from ogres one of which was a spook pusher…who knew?!?! Using my bow from the end of the hall I sent shafts to the ogres successfully and just in time as Brisket seemed to break his fit of laughter and rejoin the melee…HUZZAH! Then I was suddenly, and completely awash with thoughts and emotions. Speech escaped my tongue in incoherent patterns, I could not complete action or thought, and certainly could not verbalize intellectually at all! I found myself angry and vented my frustration by loosing two arrows into Annie dropping her to the floor. After which I felt at ease…until I realized I had shot a troupe mate with my bow!!! The same bow with which I had slain Lettie Huffman! EGADS!!! Wanting to breaking my bow, I chose instead to race to Annie and pour a healing potion down her and found her a still serviceable troupe mate! AGAIN ALL PRAISE AND GLORY TO SHELYN!!
This is when I noticed…So few of the troupe remained, and come to think of it I had not seen Rikert since before transiting the smoky tunnels!?! OH DEAR!! I collected my bow and raced to the tunnels and met Rikert coughing his way towards the doorway some distance from the door. I encouraged him to hurry as we had recently endured a most lively intense combat and would most certainly require his assistance if we were to successfully take the bailey yard!! As I assisted him to the door I noticed a faint glow come from a recessed niche and as we breached the door I sent Rikert towards the troupe and expressed my desire for a brief respite. Upon his recovery and exit to the Keep I returned to the niche and found no glow in sight. I waited and activated my torch stone. Nothing! I approached cautiously and began to see promising glints of reflected light from the recessed niche. What treasures have been hidden away by the bold Black Arrow who braved the shocker lizards to deposit their riches in such an unassuming alcove. I bent beneath the stone overhang to get a better look at the loot. Peering in what appeared to be a lovely quartz crystal lined sphere I saw no treasure readily at hand. But the glow had been that of a magical nature and color I had seen from items before and bent in to get a proper view of the interior. At which point I came nose to nose with what appears to have been a smaller, cuter….baby SHOCKER LIZARD….OH BUGGER!! I remember trying to remove myself quickly, a blue flash of sparks and involuntarily standing, then waking with a tender lump on my head, and a burning sensation on my nose. Not wishing to explain this embarrassing situation to the troupe I made my way to the waning sounds of combat in the bailey yard and tussled about and made a bit of an act of taking a glancing blow to the noggin and called it good! Once again I blessed my troubadour and acrobat for the “performance art” they had taught me. How I miss them, and Sandpoint, and many other people and my raft! (Tearing and sniffling!)
After a rest and some food I helped dispose of the dead and began to reclaim the Fort for proper use by proper folk. I gathered large amounts of pine needles, ginger root, and other medicinal herbs and boiled them to a cleansing solution to help cover or remove what could be done and using magical means to what affect I was able. I needed to stay. There was nothing to explain, that was just the way it was. Frederich needed to leave, and that’s the way it was for him too. I understand, and I will miss him dearly! He would not be back and that is ok. I told him he always had a room in Sandpoint and after a teary eyed hug I watched as he left with the others. I put one of his pretty vials in my haversack as I am sure since he has so many he will not miss it! It will be my remembrance of him should he never return to Sandpoint. I stayed at the Fort and cleaned nonstop for some four days. I took a brief rest. When I woke I gathered my belongings, ate a hot meal and carved the names of the Stormguard into the doorpost of the main hall while standing on a box. I found Shelalu, bid her farewell, thanked her and told her of my plan to regain the troupe. With the rangers repairs well in hand I made for Turtleback Ferry quite comfortably on my own….in this unrelenting GODS FORSAKEN RAIN!!! I like rangers.
So the walk was nice. I thought of a great many things, some good, some so awful I stopped on the trail and cried in the rain. Once the emotion was expelled I returned to the trail and attempted to make up for lost time. No sooner then I reached the outskirts of Turtleback Ferry did my troupe come charging up on horseback!?! WHEN DID WE GET HORSES!?!? As I watched them rumble by dodging the mud cast by the hoofs of the horses…WHATS THE HURRY?...Duh’rock scooped me up and we galloped into town.
Last evening we began Part 3 Down Comes the Rain
It began with the group arriving from the west side of Skull River as the flood was hitting the town. When we started we had 4 players (a lot are out of town right now) so I kept everything as is.
In order to get themselves to the town they had to use the ferry service themselves. So with two members pulling themselves (I used a rope line across the river) because of the torrential water. No checks required.
There is an error with the map. It talked about the schoolteacher and her kids leaving the schoolhouse to get into a ferry boat and then getting stuck at the general store. Both of those areas are out of the flood zone, so why run into it to get a boat? Now if they are saying that everything east of the dotted line was underwater then why would the church be flooding? So a few continuity errors there or I am just horrible at understanding what they meant. So I moved the "general store" to one of the buildings near the Skull River Ferry docks.
The fight with the boa went quickly, I got lucky with a strike on Simon who remained in the boat after having tied the ferry off so as to avoid it capsizing in the rushing waters. Meanwhile the druid in Roc form and his own Roc pet, as well as the ranger who had fly cast on him ferried the kids and school teacher to safety.
Just as they finished this I screwed up the Black Magga encounter by just having it wash ashore and attacking the PCs. The Breath of Madness took all the PCs out of the fight essentially except the druid who was immune. Though in that time the creature kept attacking the Magus and continually destroyed the Mirror Images instead of the Magus. Its last attack finally bit the Magus but he made his save to avoid the level loss. At that point the four rounds were up and it fled into the lake.
At this point they push forward to the dam to figure out what is going on. At this point I was now up to 6 players and everything that they encountered was at full health. But the Ettin proved to be no threat (Ray of Exhaustion set that one up, as did Misfortune hex). The 4 ogre, 1 fighter encounter on the dam was increased to 5 ogres and 2 fighters. The ogres were all still exhausted (which is a huge killer to their effectiveness) and only the fighters were at max health. That fight lasted only 4 rounds or so before the ranger either outright did 100+ damage in 1 turn of shooting or were drug off the dam by either of the two rocs (the large pet, or the huge celestial shape changed druid). The 4 trolls at max health in area C7 were also a no go on threat as the group pretty much cake walked through them.
So other than Black Magga, the fights so far have been "totally" in the PCs favor. We'll have to see how the rest of the dam adventure goes next week. (Sudden vision of National Lampoons Vacation just went through my head for some reason.)
Action Report, Simon Roque reporting.
1) Arrived at Skull River Ferry to find the river in flood. Crossed river without incident to find some citizens in distress, Druid and Ranger undertook their rescue. Once we had all arrived at the new shoreline, a large monster (Krav Magga, I believe someone said) attacked us as a group; managed to drive it off after a short fight.
2) Grateful townsfolk paid us a hefty sum when we allowed ourselves to be persuaded to investigate the Skull’s Crossing Dam; we set out immediately via the ferry since the condition of the bridge upstream was unknown.
3) Arrived at the dam late in the evening; dispatched a two-headed guardian creature, seven Ogres (engaged in demolishing the top of the dam), and four Trolls inside the central structure. The dam seems mostly intact, though the flood control system is not operating. We must find the controls and reactivate them before the water overflows and destroys the dam, and everything downstream. There is not much time to accomplish the mission.
Conclusions- since joining the group, it seems as though we have been running a race. There is no finish line in sight, and our opponents are shadows. I fear that our ignorance of what is happening around us may well kill us.
Wow. This took some reading to get through! ^^;;
Moxie, if it weren't impolite to poach players I'd recruit you for my Skype-based Runelords game. ^^;; Though they're one chapter further back so Moxie would be having lots and lots of deja vu moments.
=^-^= (Still, I suspect she'd find a kindred spirit with my GMPC, Essanne, seeing both are sneakabouts (she's just about an Arcane Trickster at this point).
I'm also quite amused with Simon. To be honest, it was almost like you were channeling Tongs from my group (also into cheap wine and cheaper women - and knows smithing).
Useplanb, I don't suppose you could provide us an update with the classes and levels of each player at this point? I must admit some curiosity... and embarrassment that I've had trouble keeping track of who does what at times! ^^;;
(Also, I've noticed a couple odd parallels; perhaps the craziest is the Marsh Giants... I've created a random encounter for after Foxglove Manor is done using two of the beasts to provide some minor treasure and decent XPs... I've been keeping the group one level above what's suggested and upping the difficulty of everything else to compensate.)
We arrived back at the ferry, jumped on and started pulling ourselves across the river. Wasn’t easy, but we got there. Before we were able to tie off, we spotted a large snake trying to get into a small boat pinned up against the general store. The boat had a woman and 3 small kids. The snake had wrapped up one of the kids before we were able to do much. I cast fly on the Davok so he could go help them. I stayed in the boat with Simon to help tie off the boat, otherwise it would capsize. The orc got to the snake with some arrows, the snake left. The druid turned into a large roc to try to go help the kids and woman along with Davok.
Simon was tying up the boat when the snake attacked him. This damn thing could have eaten someone’s grandfather. It promptly wrapped Simon up. I stepped up and hit it with a shocking grasp. It worked effectively. We as a group managed to get to higher ground and the biggest damn monster I’ve ever seen came out of the water.
This tentacled, snake like black beast breathed a sick noxious gas. Honestly, I am a little sketchy as to what happened from there, but I am very happy that I had mirror image up as it took those down with its first two attacks. Its third attack however worked just fine. It wrapped me up, but let go as the water started receding, and swam downstream. I got healed back up as I was near unconsciousness.
The group helped do what they could for the town, which wasn’t much, but we were there. We thought it through and went to see what was wrong with the dam. After traveling several hours, we arrived at the dam and found a long narrow staircase leading to a small cave like opening. Inside we found an ettin, yeah.
I tried a new spell and it worked, tiring the creature out so he wasn’t as able to attack. We took him down quickly and continued on to the dam. After some scouting by Davok and Moxie, we tried to lure them to us. It worked to a limited affect as we also moved up to them.
They all seemed tired and beat up, apparently they had fought the same beast previously as it came down the river. We dispatched seven ogres and moved to a building, probably some sort of control center.
Well, not to be disappointed, we found four or five trolls and after some early issues we dropped them and I set them on fire. Now to clear the rest of the building and hopefully fix the damn dam.
Wow. This took some reading to get through! ^^;;
Useplanb, I don't suppose you could provide us an update with the classes and levels of each player at this point? I must admit some curiosity... and embarrassment that I've had trouble keeping track of who does what at times! ^^;;
I can handle this one, I think. Going around the table from the GM's left, Rikert is a 9th level Human Paladin of Iomedae, Xandu (or Zandu, he can't decide which) is a 9th level Half-Elf Cleric of Desna, Davok is a 9th level Half-Orc Ranger, Annie (or Tian) is a Human multi-classed Ninja/Witch (not sure of the split there, but they add up to 9th), Moxie is a Gnome multi-classed Rogue/Gunslinger (again, not sure of the split; I think about Rogue 6 Gunslinger 3), Lynn is a 9th level Elf Magus, Haytham is a 9th level Human Druid, and Simon is a 9th level Human sword-and-board Fighter.
Note that not everyone is there all the time; life sometimes intervenes and the army goes on as best it can without some characters actively participating some weeks. It certainly keeps Useplanb on his toes.
Also, keep in mind that about 90% of what Moxie posts happens nowhere outside of Moxie's pretty little head. ;-)
You say that last line like it's a bad thing. ;) I figure her feeding the otters and such probably isn't depicted in game all the time. Hell, I've done the same with the journals I've written for my GMPC.
That is a diverse group, I'll admit that. :) It reminds me of when I was running Night Below (AD&D 2nd ed. group), though we only had eight players and a GMPC for one or two games, and most of the time it was five and the GMPC. (And let me tell you, there's nothing that puts fear into the hearts of players than killing off the GMPC dramatically and unexpectedly. First time I EVER saw that group retreat.)
Thank you again for these journals. It's a lot of fun reading them. :) I especially love how your character has introduced tactics into the crew. I half-suspect the tactics is why you've become more effective in the game.
Haytham’s Journal: Entry 2
Turttleback Ferry was indeed flooded; a good part of the town on the river’s side was about waist deep (for a human) and causing a significant amount of damage to some of the buildings. The church was fairing the best with its stone construction and it appeared that a majority of the townsfolk had fled to it for shelter.
A small boat was stuck between two buildings, its occupants being a mother and three younglings. I turned into a large bird and flew over to provide aid, as a massive snake had decided that one of the children would provide a decent meal. Upon my arrival the snake had fled, so I touched down beside the boat hoping that I would be able to pull it free. Even after explaining that I was there to help the mother found my presence less than calming, it was all I could do to continue standing in the rushing water so I regained flight. The ranger had flown over and picked up two of the children, so likewise I held out a talon hoping the mother would grab on. She was less than responsive so I was forced to pick her up and move toward dry land.
Shortly after we regrouped near the water’s edge I felt a massive presence behind me. I knew what it was before turning to look. The massive creature “stood” towering behind us in the surf, its head serpentine, its body more that of an octopus with sickly green tentacles writhing wildly. Its eyes shone with a sinister intellect and my stomach sank to such a depth I feared it was lost to the darkest of untold horrors. I attempted to impede it with magic but that took no effect. It quickly grabbed up my companions one by one and neither Vethrfolnir nor I was able to pierce its thick hide. My companions seemed to have little luck breaking free and I could see pain and fear painted on their faces. Their cleric was still on the other side of the river so I knew I should tend to their wounds. I was able to dodge the fierce tentacles on my way to Simon who appeared the worst off. As I was healing him the river began to recede and with it the creature released hold of those it had captured and fled with the water. Had the encounter gone on much longer we all would surely have perished, as it stands we all survived and I am grateful, for it must not have been too hungry.
The townsfolk rejoiced at its departure and their leader rewarded us each with money for driving the creature off. He must have been watching a different fight, but for their peace of mind I accepted the offering, knowing full well that if the creature desired this town it would take it at little loss. Then word of the dam came up. They explained that its floodgates had always opened when it was necessary and there had never been any danger of flooding. So we headed upstream to the dam suspecting foul play.
It was nearing dark by the time we made it to the base of the towering structure reaching several hundred feet above us. The “stairs” to the side were obviously meant for larger creatures and the way was treacherous but we had no incidents upon reaching the summit. At the top of the stairs there was a cave containing the den of an Ettin. It was dispatched quickly and we planned our sweep of the dam’s top. The cave was kind enough to open to the dam’s walkway some massive 50-60ft span, Moxie and Davok went to scout ahead. Some time had passed before Moxie came back into view yelling that there were multiple ogres ahead. Once more I turned into a large bird and flew to Davok’s aid. There were seven ogres in all, two armored up, and five underlings hoisting pickaxes. They had apparently been working on picking away at the dam till it burst. From their appearance they had been working for many hours and been in a fight or two recently, they looked ready to welcome death and the break it promised them. Vethrfulnir and I swept in taking one ogre each and dropping them off the side of the dam, allowing gravity to do the rest… funny I think that’s about how far my stomach had dropped earlier. The others were pretty much taken care of when we got back to the group with no major injuries sustained on our side.
A large skull-like structure protruded farther down the dam’s walk. Windows in the eyes allowed me to peek inside one of the rooms and I warned of what looked like a nest of sorts, not ogres, more likely the trolls the townspeople had warned us of. That suspicion was confirmed as opening the first door brought six of the blasted things to us. They were handled with quick ferocity, Simon and Davok felling most of the creatures before we set them in a pile to burn. Great, now we have a dam full of trolls to fight, however, it most certainly beats the certain doom of the creature in town.
Last night the gang finished up Down Come the Rain
We began the evening with 6 players looking in the remaining rooms in Skulls Watch except the one that contained the hidden compartment with treasure. The only change I made to this room was the removal of the cracked emerald (400g) and replaced it with a diamond (1,000g). I did this because someone was going to loose a level here and this would ensure that if they failed their Fort save they would be able to get it back before heading up to Hook Mountain.
The group then began their descent into Papa Grazuul's room with the ranger 50' ahead of the main group so that he could use his dark vision. As it turns out that wasn't the greatest of ideas. Opening the doors into C13 was not something that can be done quietly and so Grazuul heard him enter. Since the player said he moved to the western side of the pool and then looked into the pool I gave him a Perception check to notice Grazuul. Grazuul's stealth was a 19 (15 + base Dex) and the ranger noticed him as he attacked so he wasn't flat-footed. The Vital Strike was very strong. Surprise round over we rolled initiative.
At this point Grazuul was high in the initiative order, but most of the party still had to reach the room. This gave Grazuul time to work on the ranger with two power attacks that both hit. The next round the group semi floated in. So I divided his attacks at the magus and the ranger. The magus was gravely injured and I outright killed the ranger when he sidestepped 5 foot out of range before the cleric could channel. For those keeping track, this is the third death for this player. Someday he may learn.
The groups next turn was everyone moving in for attacks with lunge or ranged spells. The cleric attempted to get to the ranger, unsure if he was dead or not. The group is making use of a teamwork feat to prevent AoO, but the cleric moved to far away and was attacked. Group was surprised to find out that Grazuul had Combat Reflexes. As it turns out I crit the cleric while in a power attack round and ended up taking the cleric to -3. Eventually they wore it down and with a good round from the paladin was able to kill Grazuul.
They then checked the flood control room, and since no one directly went towards the controls the construct did not move to attack, I allowed a few to enter the room, but they just looked. Deciding to wait the checked the other rooms and eventually figured out the controls and the magus stepped into the rune loosing a level and killing the pit fiend.
Finally searching the rest of the complex they decided that the cleric would teleport to magnimar to attempt to sell the trident for enough diamonds to get the ranger back up. Some creative roll play and a close call on a teleport misshap and everything was fine.
They decided to return to fort rannick to learn how to best get to hook mountain, stayed a day to help fix some damage and got a dry bed with a belly full of venison. The next day they departed for Hook Mountain with an encounter being a group of 5 pixies that had shot an ogre who was being made (with Charm Monster) to either do handstands or dance for their amusement. Once they realized the party had moved up (the ranger having been watching the spectacle for a round or so before the party arrived) they vanished and left the ogre there dancing. So they group killed it and moved on. This is where we ended for the evening.
Action report, 18 Neth, Simon Roque reporting.
1) The remainder of the central structure proved to be empty, but we found a stairway into the bowels of the dam with the label “Wet Papa Grazul waits below” or some such rubbish. The “Wet Papa” turned out to be some sort of aquatic troll; Davok was well in front of the group, and it made short work of him. As the rest of us engaged, Xandu took advantage of our recent covering training (Escape Route teamwork feat) in an attempt to reach the body, but overextended and was nearly disemboweled for his trouble. I have told him, and told him, and told him to STAY BEHIND THE GORRAM LINE! Haytham had already stabilized Davok, so if he wasn’t Dead Right There, he was in no further danger; there was absolutely no reason to take that risk… What do I have to do to get this guy to realize that of all of us, HE IS NOT EXPENDABLE?
2) With a considerable amount of hacking from Rikert and myself, and some well-timed fire magic from Lynn, Wet Papa was dispatched with no further casualties.
3) Further exploration of the complex revealed what I believe to be the dam controls, but they were guarded by a VERY scary-looking scorpion thing; we elected to finish our exploration before dealing with it. In the end, it was not necessary. The power source for the dam controls was located, and Lynn very bravely (or foolishly, I can’t quite decide which) volunteered to be the test subject who reactivated the dam; we could hear that the flood gates had opened. Serendipitously destroyed some sort of evil extra-planar creature at the same time. Note—creature had attempted to entice us to release it from its predicament, and had claimed to have been imprisoned by someone named “Karzoug” over 10,000 years ago. Nasty fellow to have imprisoned two of these entities just to power a dam…
4) Holed up in the upper structure for a day while Xandu teleported to Magnimar to get the materials for restoring Lynn and bringing Davok back from the dead (I SAID he was indispensable, did I not?) He was eight hours late returning; claims to have only engaged in the business at hand, but I suspect he took a side trip to the Shucked Oyster or one of her sister establishments. I certainly would have.
5) Davok restored to life, we returned to Fort Rannick to inquire the way to the Hook mountains to recover their captain. Spent a half-day doing chores there in exchange for a hot meal and a roof for the night, and then started the next portion of our expedition.
I swear, Uther, every time I read Simon's reports I feel like I'm reading a journal from Tongs' long-lost brother from my own campaign. =^-^= Though half of that is the bit about visiting houses of ill repute. ;) I suspect you're having a complete hoot with this character. At least, I hope you are. :)
Simon is fun to play, especially when I get to berate Xandu and threaten to make him do push-ups while Simon sits on his back. And when I get to cuss, which is always.
A couple of weeks ago, when we introduced Haytham at the 'tavern' in Turtleback Ferry, I got to play him as about half-lit; that was fun. He ended the evening with a hearty, "Moxie, I shall be waiting in my chambers." Too bad Moxie's player wasn't there to hear it; my ear would still be getting bent about it. :D
Sorry for the threadjack.
OH YES!!(sarcasm!) WHAT A CRYING SHAME TO HAVE MISSED SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY!! (tongue gag!)
Sweet Tangerine...dear heart, it is best to leave the wild beast to feed on its own accord. You only encourage it to come back time and again if you feed it! (Which I haven't so I need a new strategy it seems!) Still and all we more than appreciate your visitations and kindness to our resident mongrel! (wave, smile, curtsy)
Which is the wild beast, Simon or yourself? ;)
Teasing you, Moxie. :) On a more serious note, I do hope you consider dabbling with writing on the side. You show considerable creativity in your "scribblings" which is most enjoyable to read. And I look forward to more of Moxie's tale. Especially your rendering of Moxie's response to Simon's quip above. ^^;;
Tangerine...You flatter me!! (blushing coy smile) In truth I must spread your honors throughout the troupe as they have inspired me for such a very, very, long time. Without them what little I have put down would have withered and died. They are the source of great happiness on countless occasions, truly all brothers in the journey of life! If only we had found this sooner what merriment and amazing feats we could have shared! These days have been a gift beyond measure! (Deep scraping bow!)
...As to the night in question, I can assure you I was not present as I was tending to the rebuilding of Fort Rannick. I have it on good authority that Brisket had mistaken-ed another for me and in his state of inebriation made his offer to her(?). HAD I been in residence on said evening the response would have been as follows...
"(Monotone!)Sweet dreams soldier boy!!...(sarcasm!)Don't wait up! Oh,and be sure you tidy up when the deed is done. We wouldn't want your armor to tarnish."
@Brisket- SHUT IT...you petulant child!
Well, the trolls left the dam smelling lovely. We started searching the upper levels of the inner dam and basically found very little. We found a staircase leading down behind a door that said that Wet Papa Grazul was through here. So down we went to give our regards.
We found a room at the bottom with a pool, the ranger went in and out pops a troll with a trident. Apparently this was Wet Papa. He killed the ranger and took down the cleric in quick succession. I was hitting him, but taking damage as well, not a good trade for me. Finally, we finished him off and he slid to the bottom of the pool. We explored the area and found a construct guarding the controls. We decided not to mess with anything and it didn’t attack us.
Further exploration led us to a room with a couple portcullises. Behind one was a devil of some sort, the other had a pile of ash. The runes were in Thassilonean and after some study and a little help from the group, I figured out that a certain type of creature would be trapped if they stepped onto the mark, but anyone else could step on it and make the dam work. There were consequences as some life force was required to make the dam work.
So I stepped in and was promptly drained accordingly. The rest of the group were talking to the other beast and among themselves so it was a somewhat hasty decision, considering the other beast had been there for thousands of years. Out of the entire group, barring mishap, I would be the longest lived, so if anyone could recover I could.
After the dam started working, we tried to figure out what to do with the ranger. Zandu spoke with dead and the ranger apparently was open to coming back, so Zandu magically travelled to Magnimar to get what he needed. The cost of said feat was paid for by the trident recovered from Wet Papa. We spent the day at the dam and travelled to Fort Rannick to get directions to Mount Hook.
We got back to Turtleback Ferry, got cold weather supplies as the trip up was going to be treacherous and cold. We went to Fort Rannick, helped them for a day; spent the night in a dry bed after eating a full meal of deer. Early the next morning found us on our way to Mount Hook. The only thing of mention was the ogre we found that had been charmed by some pixies and was alternately trying to stand on his head and dancing. We killed the ogre to the chagrin of the pixies. It’s cold and snowing as we travel and we’re nearing the top.
Dam...ogres and trolls!
With the unexpected rise of the Skull River we found Turtleback Ferry deluged with river water. I remained aboard the ferry giving others the opportunity to make landfall first. Big mistake! Duh’rock found himself coiled within a river constrictor. Lynn dispatched it and we all found our way with an extreme sense of urgency to…muddy ground. I wished to avail myself of more distance from the rising tide of the river, alas it was not to be. I had made the beginnings of a retreat when a foul black scaly beast, immense in stature rose from the murky waters and breathed a gout of gaseous fog. From that moment I recall little but the fright and desire to be elsewhere and again the inability to speak or act in a focused manner. I fear the stress of intense combat may be affecting my ability to function properly. I believe a holiday for us all would be in order to alleviate the tension and stress of the responsibility we were obliged to accept!
Strangely we found ourselves lauded as heroes by the Turtleback Ferry Folk for battling and “defeating” the beast they referred to as Black Maga! OK! The water receding in relatively quick order and we were off to Skull’s Crossing in an instant. We reached the Dam and found it a foreboding and eerie colossus of engineering. It was now evident how it got its name as is was covered in its entirety in the skull motif. It appeared as though a portion of the dam had collapsed and the waters from the Storval deep poured through the failed section. But the damage was high on the dam and that meant a frightful amount of water was waiting to be freed behind it. The troupe hastened to the only approach, a stair made for creatures of great stature climbing the heights of the west bank of the Skull River. These ended at a cave occupied by a GIANT WITH TWO HEADS!!! That was a moment of awe for me! I admit coming late to the combat and seeing its last moments before being struck down, but that beast was fascinating! But that we had an illustrator! What a vision of the troupe and its trophy could have been commissioned! At any rate there were doors to be checked and scouting to accomplish to secure the dam so off I went. Duh’rock took the precipice and I the Storval side and advanced until we happened upon a band of ogres on a work detail. Tired and brutalized we advanced under cover of darkness and RAIN!! (UGH!) Knowing the stealth(less) capabilities of the rest of the troupe I scampered back to give a quick report of the enemy and the conditions on the dam. You see in the rains the Storval Deep was lapping at the top of the dam sending waves into and topping over it not unlike those at the beach at Sandpoint. So caution was advised. Again the battle was fierce and fast but the tired ogres showed little fight and were cut down by blade and bow before my little legs could bring me to effective proximity. There was some reconnoitering of the building which offered a viney tangle which seemed a dangerous route, so the door it was. After checking said door Brisket and the others filled the portal with spell and steel. Once a path was clear I pounced in for a rapid two shot volley on a wicked nasty troll both finding their mark and finally getting to assist in conflagration!!! HUZZAH!!
Taking stock of the Dams precarious nature and the sheer and utterly voluminous mass the dam continued to hold from the river valley the troupe decided to attempt to activate the floodgates with decisive intent. I however found great entertainment casting the ogre husks from the heights of the dam, watching them pitch and spin to the pond below. (Giggle!) It was not easy but well worth the effort. The troupe had continued the march on the dam…but the troll husks…they wouldn’t remove themselves!! Ugh!! So I decided to drag them out one by one. Winded and needing to regain the troupe I decided to pitch the trolls to the Deep as the water would lighten my effort. I brought the first one out and set him afloat. The second was fractionally easier, but the first one was gone!?! Figuring it would have lingered at the edge of the dam, I reasoned that it had swiftly sunk and splashed the second in its mate’s former location. As I entered the building for the third I heard a larger wave splash against the dam and watched the water wash over the top to the door. With the third troll in tow we breached the door and the second troll had also vanished, presumably sunk as well, so I sloshed his brother into the drink and was greeted face to snout with an enormous toothy fish which had come for dessert!! EGADS!! It took the troll with it and I swear I saw the beast eye me as it slipped away. Needless to say feeding time was over!!! The husks that remained stayed were they had fallen. I watched at the door and noticed a fin or tail breach the surface passing the former feeding grounds and quickly closed the door.
I shrugged off the thought of being eaten by a fish as I attempted to regain the troupe. I used my skills learned from all the rangers with which we’ve shared time and found them carrying the husk of Duh’rock (EGADS!! Yet another!!) They had accomplished the operation of the flood gates and battled a foul troll named BIG PAPA!!?? It was later they told me how they had managed to open the flood gates, and something about a big mechanical scorpion. What a spectacular vision that must have been. I should not let myself be so easily distracted from now on! What other wonders have I missed??
Xandu left us at the dam and returned with the components and reagents necessary to revive Duh’rock. What a spectacle indeed! To bring someone back from the afterlife, but it was his wish so Xandu made it happen. INCREDIBLE!! Then it was a hasty trip back to Turtleback Ferry where the troupe purchased cold weather gear…which I would like to point out I bought before leaving Sandpoint! Staying another night at Fort Rannick helping the rebuild effort and bedding down near a warm dry fire with a belly full of venison…how comforting! Now we are off to Hook Mountain, in the shadow of its snowy reaches. I will endeavor to make more of a presence in our affairs from now on!
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Xando and Simon, a conversation (expurgated)
After a couple of hours hiking up the trail from Turtleback Ferry, the group called a halt to rest. As they each sought a dry spot to sit for a few minutes, Simon approached the priest.
“Hey, Xando; do you mind if I talk to ya for a minute?”
“Of course not, Simon,” Xando said, not looking up. “If truth be told, I’ve been waiting for this.”
Simon dropped his pack, and sat down heavily. “Nah, I ain’t gonna yell atcha. Ya know, if yer tryin’ to teach a young kid how to survive a fight, ninety-nine times out of a hunnert yellin’ at ‘em works fine. But ya ain’t no kid, and I ain’t in charge here. Yellin’ won’t work, and it ain’t fair; I can’t dock yer pay, or confine ya to barracks, or give ya extra duty so I’m done with it. I’m just wonderin’, whaddya think is up there?” he said, gesturing up to the northwest toward their destination.
“The Hook Mountian? The nymph said it was the ogre stronghold,” Xando replied.
Simon nodded, “Ya know what that means, right? It means all them ogres we croaked at Fort Rannick and on the Skull Crossing was just raiding parties. The big bad guys’re still up there, and that Lamia biatch too. I’ll wager she’s told ‘em all about us, and they’re up there just waitin’. Whatever’s makin’ this weather is up there too, and that’s gonna be some heavy duty magic.”
“Yes Simon, I suppose that’s true,” Xando said. “Do you have a plan?”
“Nope,” Simon said. “But yer a priest, you guys can see the future and stuff, right? How are ya at seein’ the past?”
Xando looked confused, “You mean remembering what’s happened? I’m pretty sure we can all do that.”
“Nah, not just that,” Simon said, “I’m asking ya to look at what might’ve happened. Let’s say that slimy troll pigfscker had finished ya off on that ledge when ya went for Davok. What would be different now?” Simon only waited a second before continuing softly, “I’ll tell ya what; me and Rikert and the rest would still be right here, headin’ up inta the teeth a’ that crapstorm, only without you and Davok. Whaddya think our chances would be then?”
“I don’t imagine they would be very good,” Xando mumbled.
“I don’t imagine they would either,” Simon said quietlyly, with a weary and haunted look on his ugly mug. “What about if ya had stayed back where ya was supposed to, like I’ve told ya to? What’d be different now?”
Xando thought for a moment, “why, nothing Simon. Nothing would be different at all.”
Simon nodded slowly. “Once back when I worked in Magnimar, I watched my best friend die. We had some thieves cornered in a slum, and I told him to hold the front while me and the rest of the squad went in the back. Routed them bastages good, only the last of ‘em got lucky and stuck a dagger in my buddy’s throat. Hardest thing I ever done was watchin’ that, seein’ as it was me gave the order. I still see his face at night.” Simon rubbed his face and continued, “I don’t know how ya priests do it. I mean, sure, ya heal the sick when ya can but ya also comfort the dyin’. You’ve probably seen more death than I have.”
Xando said, “Not like this. I can’t just stand back and watch my friends die! I need to, I have to help!”
“Ya are helping, Xando,” Simon replied. “But ya have to take inta account that Desna let ya raise Davok up from the dead! How many priests in the whole world can do that? Yer the one that keeps us going against these crazy odds we’re facing, and yer the one that has to put us back together after the fight.”
Simon looked up at the overcast sky through the dripping trees and went on, “There’s a storm comin’, Xando. Them two Lamia biatches with the murderers in Magnimar and these ogres, that what’s her name with the goblins in Sandpoint, them waddaycallit ‘thassalonian’ pendants we got off ‘em, it’s all connected. They’re trying to bring something nasty into the world, and we seem to be the only ones tryin’ to stop it. If the inside of Fort Rannick, and that farmhouse before, was any indication of what’s comin’ then they NEED to be stopped. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like we was all… chosen, maybe—to stop it.”
Simon stood up, and swung his pack onto his shoulders, as Xando stared at the muddy earth between his boots. “I don’t know Simon,” Xando whispered, “this might be too hard for me.”
Simon rumbled back, “I don’t know about you Xando, but I’m glad I won’t have to be the guy who stands before Desna and tells her she picked wrong.”
Xando didn’t want to look up; he was surprised that Simon had heard him but he was right and Xando knew it. Just because he didn’t like so much death around him didn’t change the fact that he was in this mess to its end or to his. He couldn’t keep making mistakes like that; rushing in to save one party member almost cost two lives and maybe more. Simon's rules were wearing Xando down but if it weren’t for Simon and his rules they wouldn’t have made it this far. Desna had been coming to Xando in his dreams quite a bit lately, much more than in the past, giving more and more advice. Xando was feeling like he had asked too much of her lately but come to think of it, she hadn’t let him down either. Maybe Simon was right and they were “chosen.” It made Xando beam inside to think that Desna trusted him so much. He hadn’t thought of it that way before. Leave it to the roughest guy in the troupe to point it out.
Xando stood up, slapped Simon on the shoulder and said with a smile “I don’t want to be that guy either.” Looking around at the troupe he added “Thanks for getting my head straight and not doing it in front of the others.”
Simon grinned back, looking like a happy bulldog. “C’mon,” he said, “We got us some more ogres to croak.”
A short survey of the top floor showed it to be empty and we headed down into the body of the dam. Davok took to scouting ahead and found himself in a nasty one on one fight with the “wet papa Grazuul” till we caught up to help. Not two seconds after I entered the fray than Davok took a fatal strike from Grazuul’s trident and went down; unsure whether he was just out or dead I cast a stabilizing spell to stop any bleeding. I was out of offensive spells for the day and went about healing and buffing the fighters ahead of me. Xandu tried to help Davok and he too fell to the ground after a very solid hit, luckily he was still moving around a little so we had time to help him. A mixture of fire and brute force saw to Grazuul’s end and it was confirmed that Davok was beyond our help at the moment. Once Xandu was up again he explained he may be able to bring him back if his god allowed it, but we required some material components that may be hard to locate.
One of the side rooms housed a vile scorpion-styled creature made of what appeared to be humanoid bones. It sat in front of a miniature reconstruction of the dam, Xandu explained the mini-dam radiated strong magic, and we believe it to be a control room of some sort. Being as the scorpion creature was not hostile it is likely it is supposed to monitor the dam’s function in some way. Another room contained the source of the dam’s power. Two chambers were present on opposite sides of a small room. One chamber contained nothing but a pile of ash, the other was occupied by an emaciated but obviously evil creature. It begged us to let it out and promised no harm come to us, after some questioning it explained that it and another of its kind had been powering the dam for the last ten thousand years but it was too weak to do so any longer. While we were talking amongst ourselves on what to do Lynn stepped into the other circle and the dam roared to life. The sound of water rushing through the gates was uplifting. Lynn was drained by the ordeal and the fiendish creature in the other circle did not survive.
We stayed at the dam for a couple of days while Xandu went to obtain the components he required to raise Davok. Then we hit Fort Rannik to get directions to Hook Mountain and back to Turttleback Ferry for some to gather supplies before heading off first thing the next morning. We hit the base of the mountain and immediately encountered snowy conditions, much nicer than the constant rain and more what I am used to.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
In the upper chambers of the dam, we found some additional damage and signs of disrepair, but there were no additional threats.
We found a doorway leading down a long flight of stairs, more than one hundred feet into the lower section of the dam. Davok kept ahead of us as he scouted the way to the pool below. As he entered the chamber with the pool, a fierce commotion broke out as some unseen creature leapt from the water and speared the ranger. Davok fought the creature by himself as the rest of us ran down the remaining stair to help. The first of us arrived just in time to see Davok laid low by a brutal attack.
As Xandu moved in to the room along side of Simon and I, he ventured out too far in a desperate attempt to save Davok, and it nearly cost him his own life as the enormous troll once again used his spear to drop another party member. I was torn between trying to save Xandu and Davok, or stand with Simon against the foe. After a moment's pause, I called on Iomedae's power to rejuvenate my injured comrades and was rewarded by Xandu becoming conscious enough to begin healing the others while I joined the fight.
With our combined efforts and some well-timed fire spells used by Lynn, we were able to kill the troll.
We spent some time to rest and heal before clearing the rest of the dam. We found a control room guarded by a strange scorpion-like construct that left us alone since we did not proceed farther into the control room.
Nearby, we found two rooms filled with ancient binding magic that held the remains of one diabolical creature, and another of the creatures who was barely alive. Using Iomedae's gift, it was obvious that the creature was an unholy abomination. The creature, evil as it appeared, was no threat to us because it was trapped in a powerful binding circle that prevented it from escaping or using its magical powers.
Lynn eventually was able to read and understand the runes that bound the creatures and learned how to operate the power source of the dam by stepping into the unoccupied circle. When he did this, the circles both flared to life and the systems of the dam activated to release the emergency gates and lower the water level. The surge of power from the circles drained some of Lynn's life force, and killed the devil outright.
Following the securing of the dam, and the activation of the flood gates, we had time to plan our future moves. It was decided that Xandu would magically travel by himself to Magnimar to obtain the components for a ritual that could restore life to Davok. (Player's note: Maybe we should send someone with Xandu next time to make sure he doesn't forget why he is there!)
The party rested while Xandu was gone. When he returned, he was able to summon the power of his goddess in a mighty miracle that brought Davok back to the land of the living.
We stopped in town to equip ourselves for the journey to Hook Mountain to hunt down the remaining ogres and the lamia creature that had escaped from us earlier. Once equipped, we started the long trek up the mountain.
The army reached the Hook Mountain clanhold last evening and we managed to get 2-3 fights in before calling it quits, which is pretty good for 3.5 hours.
We started with most of the group outside of the cave, below the plateau that the cave entrance is located at. I made moving up the 30' or so count as difficult terrain from the rocks, ice and snow. Three of the team moved up onto the plateau to scout out the cave entrance. Davok, Moxie and Haytham in the form of a snow leopard. Once they reached the top I had them roll stealth of which low man on the pole was Haytham with a 14. The two ogre fighters there made perception checks and they spotted the cat. Moving out of the cave thinking they have a quick meal they see the ranger and thief. Thinking that the cat was the rangers pet they charged. We had 6 people at the start of this so I just maxed out their health and left the rest as is.
Ogre fighters in open ground are a decent threat as the fights in the caves have not gone as well. The dice were somewhat on and I got a few good licks in on the group as a whole, but I spread the love. Failing to read the last line of the paragraph explaining the encounter, I overlooked the "tactics" employed if one of the ogres is killed and stayed around in the fight when he should have ran for help. Meh.
Owning a large portion of the RotRL minatures, I used the Rune Giant as part of the "terrain" to mark area D3. That minature alone makes them begin commenting (TPK, party wipe coming online, etc.), so great job there Paizo.
Moving forward, they stare at the "statue" for a good long time before Xandu made a Heal check to realize that this thing is not a statue but a preserved body. Davok spent a few rounds and climbed up and removed the medallion causing the giant to crumble to dust and the armor to noisily fall to the ground. As the pieces began to fall a quick Silence spell from Xandu went up so only minor noise was heard from the initial collapse. Davok having boots that lower the damage from falls only takes 4 points of damage. Good magic item that one.
They poke around the large pit but decide to ignore it and move on. Should stick a large spider in there or something for fun factor. At this point I had them all make DC 25 perception checks, to notice the sounds of metal on metal banging. The anvils in area D6, with those that made the 25 able to pick out that it was deeper in the caves off to the south, the rest just heard the echo of their smithing.
Moving forward to the choke point, I know had 8 players so I tried to increase the challenge by adding a generic ogre. In retrospect, it probably should have been a fighter. This time Moxie moved forward to scout solo. He rolled poorly and the hill giant got a natural 20 plus perception and noticed her. Fight on.
Because the stairs (in my mind) are probably going to be set for large sized creatures I decided to make them difficult to move up at any high rate of speed. Think of moving in a coliseum somewhere and the steps change from normal steps to baby steps. More people stumble because of that than anything. So I said that if you moved a normal move you were good, if you attempted to move at double speed you would have to make a Acrobatics check, DC 12 because the steps were not in rhythm to your stride.
The fight went quickly with the giant shouting off a warning and I rolled 5 rounds before reinforcement would arrive. At the end of the 5th round the choke point was cleared (other than the bodies which are now difficult terrain) and the ogres from D6 were moving to come down the stairs.
Several AoE spells later, most of the ogres were dead and the remainder moved off to the side to force the party to come up to them. A few rounds later and some horrible Fort saves by me, the remaining ogres were either dead or unconscious from poison.
We ended the evening with two unconscious ogres (1 normal, and the fighter) and the group just having entered into D6.
Action Report, Draft, Simon Roque reporting.
1) Proceeded up to the Hook Mountain through heavy snow. Never really appreciated the extra expense of the “comfort” armor option before.
2) Arrived at suspected ogre stronghold and deployed scouts, who were discovered immediately by very alert ogre guards. Snow and terrain made support difficult, but guards were slain without significant casualties to our group and without spreading the alarm.
3) Scrimshaw on dragon bones near cave entrance announced the Kreeg Clanhold. Just inside was an imposing 40’ tall statue of a giant in half-plate, wearing a Sihedron medallion. Statue was discovered to be the preserved remains of an actual giant (!), removal of Sihedron medallion converted it to dust.
4) Entered the cave proper and soon encountered opposition. First words from the inhabitants were, “They’re here,” which seems suspicious to me. While we suspected that the Lamia encountered at Fort Rannick may have warned the ogres about us, the alert guards out front and this outburst seemed to indicate that our enemies were aware of the approximate time of our arrival. Must take into account that we are being observed and reported on by spies or through magical means. Countermeasures may be necessary.
5) Including the guards outside, we have killed sixteen ogres and one hill giant (not the statue) so far, while sustaining only minor damage; mostly due to the profligate use of magic. I worry that we will have nothing left when we face the bosses.
When we were within sight of the fort Moxie and Davok crept ahead and scouted the fort for a secret way in. They found it and came back to get us. There were a few hundred feet of open ground to cover in sight of the fort and after a close call with a patrol we finally made it to a waterfall that hid an back entrance to the fort. I felt good even in the damp smelly cave (it was much nicer than the farm house). We meandered a little until we found the shock lizard’s lair. We used them for a diversion while we made our way into the stronghold. That all went pretty well but we entered the living quarters of the lamia matriarch, Lacretia.
She said “Mokmurian would be glad to meet us” and we should join the winning side, to which Lynn said “No”. She used demission door or something to get out when we had her on the ropes. I need to see if Desna can help me with keeping her from escaping that way. We used the stairs to gain access to the upper floors and found “ Farm House Two” death and mutilations of the rangers that once protected Ft. Rannick. Blood and body parts littered rooms and walls. A fury was brewing inside me and I felt helpless.
We again found a healed Lacretia along with several more horrid Ogres. Again as we got the upper hand she disappeared. Frustrated and trying to catch the fleeing lamia, we fought our way out the fort and into the courtyard. Happily we were reunited with our ranger friends but learned that they had also unknowingly helped the lamia escape.
Tracking the best we could in the worst of conditions we found the ranger that had helped Lacretia, dead. We buried his body and continued into Turtleback Ferry. No one had seen any girl entering town so we had to decide what to do. We decided on trying to find the rangers leader who might be in the swamp area near here so after a warm bed off we were again.
Well that sucked. We went on a wet soggy journey into a hornets nest. Not really but I did meet the captains girl, rather nymph I mean Myriana. It’s true what they say “that you’ll go blind at the sight of one“, we all did. Save Simon who refused to try his luck with the nymph. He laughed, “normal girls make me go blind and stupid, what do I need with a supernatural one for“. Right again. Simon helped us out of the area and onto relatively dry ground so I could restore our sight. It wouldn’t grate on me so if he wasn’t right all the time. Simon and his fricking rules. I did, how ever speak with Myriana and told her that I’d try and help her by bringing Lamatars body back. She was beautiful…..made me think of “Ameiko”. Where did that come from?! Anyway back to Turtleback Ferry.
More messing with ogres and trolls but nothing like the farm house. The power of Desna has never run stronger though my veins as at the dam. I even had to travel to Magnimar and back, in order to raise Davock from the great sleep. I heard whispers as to the length of my mission but I will keep my wonderful night of merriment and a personal guard while I slept in a huge soft bed to myself.
From the dam we continued to Ft Rannick. Then on to Hook Mountain. It took a talking to from Simon (no less) to make me understand that not only did the troupe need me but that maybe even Desna herself needed me. Not that she needed me but that she liked working through me or what was it, how did he say… crap I forgot. It sounded good when Simon said it and I understood, I mean it made sense. At least I know that not only does the troupe have my back but that Desna does too. And that’s a good thing… a great thing.
So the three of them sneak up to a cave mouth and are immediately set upon buy awaiting ogres. A hard won fight takes but a few minutes and we are safely within the cave. The entrance to the cave seams to be the rib cage of a huge dragon. Scrimshaw carving on the dragon bones (in giant) spoke of the Kreeg Clan. Not to far beyond the entrance there was a thirty foot giant with a Sihedron medallion on. I surmised that the medallion was keeping him in gentle repose. Davok climbed the statue and removed the medallion. When he did the statue crumbled to the ground, I almost didn’t get a silence spell off in time in order to not announce our arrival with all the armor and weaponry clanging to the ground.
As Moxie was scouting ahead a voice range out in giant “They’re Here” and we fought more ogre. During this fight (staying in the back like I’m supposed to) I started taunting the ogres in giant. Calling them all sorts of names and telling them that we were here for their souls. I kept telling them that we wouldn’t kill them if they would just tell us where the lamia was but they all fought to the death. Not one of them answered or responded to my taunts.
That must be some kind of power she has over them or maybe this “Mokmurian” was here as well. We are just a little way into the cave and have encountered lots of ogre and a hill giant. We have two unconscious ogres and a lot of unanswered questions.
The struggle up to the top of the mountain was severe. It took me longer than the rest of the group. When I finally arrived, they were already engaged in combat with several ogres. I joined combat and we finished them off.
The entry had large bonelike structures coming out of the ground. There were tiny carvings all over these bones. After some study, I determined that they were the bones of a giant blue dragon. There was a large statue like thing further into the cave. It was wearing a sahedron symbol like Zandu’s and we determined that the creature was being kept in stasis as dead. Davok climbed up and removed the symbol and it turned to dust. We kept going.
We came to a room with several passageways leading out of it. There were ogres and a hill giant guarding it, watching for us. We didn’t disappoint. The fight was on. The ogres had more coming, but we were ready for them. I lined up a wonderful lightning bolt shot through 4 of them and we cleared them out and moved forward. We have more fighting yet to come.
Just ahead of us on the mountain loomed a large dark cave with smoke coming out the upper part of the mouth suggesting inhabitants. Moxie, Davok, and I attempted to sneak ahead and scout the mouth of the cave. Two very aware ogres spotted me, and before I was able to lead their attention elsewhere, my companions. We were able to dispatch those two with minor injuries, and we continued into the cave. Great rib-bones flanked the sides of the entry way for some way, carved into them were clan symbols and other random bits that I did not recognize as giant. The end of this hall showed a massive giant in armor that was dead, but preserved by an amulet around its neck. Davok quickly ascended the creature and removed the amulet turning the monstrosity into dust.
The next few rooms proved to be rather full of ogres and one hill giant. Fighting in small areas like this prolong the fight but also prevent the ogres from attacking our support (Zandu). The piles of dead ogres also prove slick and difficult to maneuver around during combat. Hopefully when we finish clearing these caves and eradicating this “Kreeg” clan and the lamia we expect is leading them, we can get the weather back to normal and be done with this blasted place.
Rikert Krupt – Paladin of Iomedae
Our journey to Hook Mountain continued through the heavy snow and poor visibility. We eventually reached a large cave mouth that had black smoke pouring from inside.
Our scouts were quickly seen by ogres standing guard just inside the cave mouth. The resulting combat was over quickly and we moved forward into the cave. Inside, we found what appeared to be rib bones of a gigantic dragon spaced along the edges of the cave like columns or supports. Farther in, we found ourselves face to shin with a giant, armored statue. The towering statue proved to be an enormous corpse that was magically preserved by the power of a large, Sihedron amulet on a chain around its neck. Simon and I guarded the stairs leading farther up into the cave while Davok climbed the creature and removed the amulet, releasing the preservation spell and causing the entire thing to collapse in a cloud of dried ash.
We continued farther into the cavern until we were stopped by a force of ogres and a giant in a room blocking our path. Using improved tactics (thank you Simon!), we pressed our way up the stairs and killed the enemies. Our victory was short-lived, as a shout was heard that there were more on the way to the room.
We regrouped and reformed with the fighters to the front to stop their advance, while the casters blasted them from a distance with fire and lightning. The magical onslaught released by the party was impressive, and resulted in the instant deaths of several ogres, and severe wounding of several others. The fighters pushed our advantage given by the magic, and rushed the survivors at the top of the stairs.
Once again, our combined efforts quickly overwhelmed the remaining ogres. One or two were left incapacitated in hope of being questioned about what lies before us in the cave.
Ogre Hooks everywhere!!!
Finally….at the….top…..EGADS HIDE!! Duh’rock, Haystack and I breached the open plateau with a cave mouth in a near blizzard to find two sentries at the cave. Alert and extremely attentive for ogres, we attempted to use the conditions to our advantage but it was not to be. Duh’rock was rushed by the first, the second lagged behind slightly. I lingered long enough to cause distraction until the full troupe could engage. Then I was pounded by the brute and resigned from the fray and sight. As I recovered from the blow I skulked up to the cave and ventured in to see what was ahead, the combat still boiling on the plateau. Scrimshawed dragon ribs, with sihedron symbols strewn about the carvings. EGADS!? Oh and a large statue of some sort. When the combat subsided and the troupe arrived at the cave I returned to them to report.
I let the heroes range ahead and investigate the statue and I my instinct served me well, for this was no statue!! It was a remnant of giants past, humungous and fierce looking, with a blade as long as a horse. Its armor was jewel encrusted and it bore a giant sized sihedron necklace. It was determined that the necklace should be removed…not by me…for two reasons. The first is because I simply didn’t have the strength or stature to accomplish the task…right!? The second was because I wasn’t dumb enough to do it!! So we goaded the half-orc into it…”Give it to Duh’rock, he’ll do anything!” When the necklace was removed the troupe was covered in a cloud of fine black giant dust…pft-pft- ptooy! (COUGH…GASP!) Not so tasty!! And the armor and blade crashed to the ground, causing but a momentary bit of noise as Xandu silenced the bulk of it through his wisdom of the divine. Rummaging about I found a piece suitable for sledding down the mountain as we head back…IF!
We ruminated on the plan of attack, and decided to advance scouts first. I crept up the stairs and admittedly it wasn’t my best work as a giant of some sort spotted my reconnaissance and started launching enormous javelins at me. Resigning from sight I moved up into the notch the giant used for cover waiting for him to pass to attack the troupe so I could gain advantage. I waited as more javelins flew towards the troupe, and wouldn’t you know the battle line stopped in front of ME! Knowing I couldn’t stay unseen for long I considered my options as blows were traded before me and uncomfortably near me. In fact Brisket all but pushed me into the giant in his lunge to do battle before he realized my presence. But for the grace of Shelyn did the beast not notice me. Then the combat waned as the hulks fell to the troupes effort. In the last moments of the melee I was able to gain advantage on the last of them with the fleeting moments of my unseen mobility and punctured the brute in his flanks. The troupe rushed the room laying waste to the fallen and confirming their demise, when I realized more had collected at the top of another stairway which I assumed would charge at any moment so I called out and OH MY the conflagration that ensued was spectacular!!
Brimstone flames, arrows and bolts of lightning savaged the corridor. I sent two shafts at two ogres. At first they were disinterested and one was even amused at my attempt, until the stinginess set in. (giggle) One lurched forward and the other yanked the shaft from his arm before being caught in a wave of sorcery, but the look on their faces told me they knew they had been poisoned! I advanced up the stairs to the retreating ogres after the troupe and struck two more brutes with my laced arrows and they too realized their imperiled state. Seeing the doom of the moment they charged the troupe and were cut to ribbons!(HUZZAH!) One of my victims still remains unresponsive and it has been suggested we attempt to try to speak with it to confirm our suspicions. But there is still much to do here and the time may not be right for interrogations. I leave it to the troupe.
So could we (as gamers) be any more stereotypical?
Our gaming location is in the basement of one our players mothers home. He doesn't live there, but its where we play and have been for years. On occasion she whips up a massive meal for everyone and their families. She did so last night. Why am I telling you this? Because I had all 8 players there, ready to go, which is rare.
They left the "clan hold" and moved on towards the three hags. I increased their challenge by making them "Advanced" and gave them max health. Well, small issue here in that the AP says ". . . favoring their more powerful coven spell-like abilities like bestow curse and forcecage at the start of the fight . . ." Well the Annis Hag entry in the Bestiary 3 has ZERO spells. They can Alter Self and Fog Cloud. Gah! So I essentially made them really, crappy witches with two spells, and two spell-like abilities. As it turns out, Fog Cloud is a great spell to cast (multiple times) in a confined space and then perform a metric crap ton of melee attacks in. This fight took forever. The hags did damage, but it was superficial. Essentially I used up the parties Channel Positive Energy resource of the cleric keeping everyone topped off. It also helps to realize that the Annis Hag is a large creature. Something I didn't initally realize. As per the book, they backed off and begged to be let go, and offered their information if left alive, and even though the party was split evenly on what to do, the next player on his initiative moved in to attack, so no chance on recovering that situation. It was a fight to the death.
After that they moved in and found the former commander of the Black Arrows and this fight went relatively quickly. He can crank out some damage (also made him advanced and with max health). As soon as they got into melee it was over as no one would fail their save for the energy drain. Even with a 32 AC they were hitting him rather well, even with everyone at level 9.
We finished off the night with them entering into Barls chambers and seeing not only Barl but two Stone Giants. (My story has there having been three giants that came with him before Barl killed one for questioning him.)
Heh. When I host the game at my place, I usually treat the players to a homemade meal (homemade mac and cheese or vegetarian spaghetti sauce with melted Parmesan cheese mixed directly into the sauce, with a side of scrambled ground beef and sausage for us carnivores). Never played in a basement though - they tend to be too cluttered and cramped even for a moderate-sized group.
Sounds like you guys had fun. :) (Here's hoping my tabletop group will be able to meet this weekend... *fingers crossed*)
Dinner was roast beef, green beans, cooked carrots and onions, cheesy potatoes, cucumbers, pickles and piles of rolls and real butter, with chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert (3 hours later). I'm still bloated, and I skipped the dessert.
Action Report, draft, Simon Roque reporting
1) After the fight, it became clear that we were in a huge forge, where the ogres had been making large numbers of giant-sized swords and other weapons. Clearly someone is preparing for a large scale war (in more ways than one). The sounds of mining, likely for the raw materials for more weapons, could be heard from tunnels exiting the forge. Since it was unlikely that we would encounter organized resistance in that direction, we decided to explore the remainder of the complex first in an effort to locate the Lamia and the remains of the missing Captain of the Black Arrows.
2) The next chamber we entered was a charnel house that proved to be occupied by three creatures the druid called “Annis Hags.” He also said that they were responsible for the unnatural weather in the area. The hags produced some sort of fog that filled the chamber, making effective teamwork nearly impossible. In the end they sued for mercy, which I was inclined to grant in an effort to gain much needed strategic intelligence about the situation. Some others were in agreement with me, but we were unilaterally overruled by our so-called paladin, who apparently maintains most of his muscles between his ears. I have had little cause for animosity with Rikert before now, but on this particular occasion he pissed me off mightily; so much so that I quit the fight in disgust. It required nearly a minute for Rikert and his faction to dispatch the remaining hags.
3) We next came to a disused shrine area with a huge statue of Lamashtu, and there we encountered the remains of the missing captain. He had gained unlife as a wight, and caused us some damage before we were able to end his existence. Xando removed a relic from the body for delivery to the nymph in the swamp. By this point, as I feared, the group was nearly out of magic, and we have yet to face the real adversaries. There has been no sign of Lucrezia or her superior Mocmurian.
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So the troupe decided against speaking with our captured ogre, ransom not being a possibility, he went into the cold dark sleep of death, but not by my hand or wish. This room was a great forging facility manufacturing weapons for enormous creatures in massive quantity, and that means someone with an army of giant-ish type creatures has a plan to make war. But who is going to war and whom do they intend to victimize? The why is mostly evident from our pursuits of recent discovery. After the question had been answered we searched the room and took that which fit easiest to our pockets and stoked the fires and threw as many weapons on the “furnace” as possible to destroy what progress they had made. This was done in some haste and wariness as we could hear the miners hard at work off in the mines.
Returning to the previous room with the hill giant corpse we advanced up the stairs, myself in the lead, out of the torch light and general lumbering noise of the troupe. I came upon an all too familiar aroma first, the stench of dismembered death. (Tongue gag!)Raising my mask over my nose I reached the top of the stairs and followed the wall towards the glow of a low fire. Peeking around I found a huge monstrous female witch-thing all gangly limbed, straggly haired and butt ugly visage, lovingly stirring a cauldron. The contents bubbled wafting its steaming vile humid vapors into the cavern making the aroma worse than before. As I paused to control the contents of my stummy from making a hasty exit, another crazed witch-beast peered from an undiscovered alcove and spotted me sounding the alarm!!(EGADS!!) I scrambled to gain my bearings as she cast a spell. I lept from her magical cage before it could ensnare me and returned the favor by removing a portion of her left ear with a hasty report from my percussion wand! A tight fix this is! Then cook-witch stepped from the cauldron room and began to claw at me. About then is when Annie arrived by my side. Initially I was comforted and then I realized I was the only non-witch currently in residence in this portion of the cavern and desperately needed the odds to be turned to my favor much more rapidly than was transpiring. I could hold this line but for just a moment more before I would be added to the stew! Not a desirable thought! I left two smoking holes in the saucier before a pasty thick rolling fog engulfed me. I was then ravaged by claws and teeth….OUCH!!! I could hear the troupe rushing through around me and the fight was on. I shot twice more and heard one ricochet off the cavern wall and into the soup. The other hit…fleshy bits…whose I didn’t know for sure. There were flashes and lightning a fiery explosion and the fighting kept going. I attempted another volley only to be disappointed when the spark fizzled on the pan with no report (BUGGER!!) I ran for a clearer field of vision calling out “I’ll be right back!” Annie had long since disappeared into the fog and the only troupe members I could account for were Rikert and Lynn. After clearing the wand of its fouling I ran back to my certain doom in the fog. We had gained ground and all seemed to be going well. Then one of the creepy crones called out from the fog…” Let us live and we will tell you what you wish to know and leave this area.” OK, I thought, and others put voice to the same idea but Lynn, Rikert and Duh’rock refused a parlay. To me…sometimes… answers to sharp, pointed questions shed more light on the details of an endeavor currently pursued than one could ever hope to get through research or force of arms. So I backed away to hold the door, pistol in one hand, axe in the other. The combat recommenced bringing an end to the negotiation. Their end was swiftly brought and scant loot collected.
After the ruckus the fog cleared and Hayseed divined these “licorice hags” had been the creators of the regions foul weather and that the cauldron was the key. It was kicked over and the disgusting contents put out the fire. I excused myself rather quickly at that point!(GAG!!) Needless to say Licorice is now one of those flavors that will be forever tainted for me…I will NOT be indulging any time soon!
Mildly perturbed at a loss of possible opportunity to get some easy answers to hard questions, I ventured to the last corridor and awaited the healing soiree to conclude, in which I did participate and am very grateful for! >:P I assumed point position yet again traversing another stair into darkness. Into this cavern I was forced to toss my moon rod so as to reconnoiter it. Not very stealthy but what’s the difference, I had been doing poorly in every attempt since we entered this cave so far right? Huh, nothing but a Lamashtu altar and a pit of some sort. I reported back to the troupe. So we gathered at the top of the stairs and pushed into the room. Annie and I watched their approach from cover. Some discussion was made concerning the lover of the Black Arrows Captain when Xandu vomited the most vile string of words a man could ever say in the presence of another woman. “(NAMELESS WENCH) is the most BEEEAUTIFUL woman I’ve ever seen!!!!” This was the last straw; angered I lept from cover, bow in hand and drew an arrow which I promptly aimed at his rump. Recovering some sense of reason I recalled this to be the same bow with which I had slain an innocent , nearly assisted in doing the same with Annie and was unsure of whether I had purchased a laced arrow form my quiver in my rage. That along with the fact we needed him, and a forced three hour nap would not help us out, I decided on a less lethal approach. I ran up throttling him with my bow and a stern recommendation he chose his words with more wisdom in the future!!! At that I noticed we had been engaged already, and found myself woefully exposed to the withering bow fire from the area around the altar. In an unordinary move the foe who I realized wore a Black Arrow medallion backed himself into a corner and engaged in hand to hand combat with Brisket, unarmed. It was called out that he was walking dead and most likely the husk of the former Captain of the Black Arrows. In multiple attacks I scored two hits causing more of a distraction or irritant than anything. When Brisket had his fill,Hayseed in cat form (YEESH!)and Rikert stepped in and laid waste to the husk which I was later informed was referred to as a wight. It was found his armor and bow had magical properties. I stepped up and requested for the Black Arrow medallion and stowed it away.
Having concluded two of our objectives in successive rooms I pondered what would come next? We entered a cooler sunlit chamber of immense proportions. A central aisle lined with carved stone statues of giants….(HMMM??)…. and three walking, breathing stone giants lurking near the far end of the chamber. One appears to be a runt of stone giant though. Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a privilege to have known you, best of luck to you all!! Lets dance!!
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Heh. When I host the game at my place, I usually treat the players to a homemade meal (homemade mac and cheese or vegetarian spaghetti sauce with melted Parmesan cheese mixed directly into the sauce, with a side of scrambled ground beef and sausage for us carnivores). Never played in a basement though - they tend to be too cluttered and cramped even for a moderate-sized group.
Sounds like you guys had fun. :) (Here's hoping my tabletop group will be able to meet this weekend... *fingers crossed*)
"AND THEY CALL IT A BASEMENT! A BASEMENT!!" Not so much, the home is gorgeous, huge, tucked away it the woods and we are always made to feel like one of their own! We are truly blessed by the graciousness of Mom and Pops and their offspring Xandu and Hayseed!
(I cross mine for you too!)
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Oh, our Saturday "game" was a classic: Once the four of us were together, we took a field trip to the Oaktown spice shop to stock up on fresh curry ingredients, then off to Umami Burger for lunch. (HIGHLY recommended!) We got home just in time to declare our gaming table inadequate, so off to IKEA we went for a new table! We learned that Hi's player had not yet seen "Red", which was a crime with "Red 2" coming out, so we checked our Netflix instant queue...
...about the only reason the game happened was that we were too full from Umami Burger for our planned dinner at Bowl'd (great Korean rice bowl place on Solano Avenue in Albany, CA).
Good food, good friends, and random wanderings, with gaming interspersed throughout? Priceless!
(Yeah, yeah. I have one free night this week (tonight), and my players are all demanding that I prepare the next section of our Absalom side quest instead of writing up what happened last weekend, so, as has become commonplace on my thread, the writeup'll be a week late...)
Hee! NH, your game sounds like what happened back with my old group, before two of the core players divorced (with the woman getting most of the gaming group and the guy (my best friend) getting a burnt-out GM (me) and one player the others disliked who since has gone off to do her own thing and isn't a gamer anymore). I suspect that if you eliminated the time spent by three of the players to tend to young children and food breaks, we probably got about four hours of gaming in. ^^;;
The new group has fewer interruptions (outside of nostalgia and reminiscences, to the point that I have instituted a rule forbidding us to talk about old games when the current one is running - and let the two lady gamers know they have permission to pelt me with soft objects should I stray from that rule) so our four-hour games (usually starting late due to technical difficulties with Skype for our distance player) actually has been known to get things done! Sometimes. ;) So long as the game's not a mystery... ^^;;